Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Cole Swindell – You Should Be Here

Career-maker for country guy?


Thomas Inskeep: Swindell is one of the hottest rookies in country music right now, after earning four top-two Hot Country Airplay singles (including a pair of #1s) from his debut album. But this right here is his career-making song, his “Friends In Low Places,” his “Forever and Ever, Amen,” his “Jesus Take the Wheel.” “You Should Be Here” is a close cousin of Luke Bryan’s “Drink A Beer,” right down to Swindell’s vocal delivery; it’s a heartfelt ballad celebrating the life of a friend who’s gone too soon. The production is classy and shows restraint, and the lyrics are sweet. It’s not amazing, but neither is it offensive, and if it catches you at just the right moment, it might get you right there.

Josh Langhoff: After the failed booty call “Hope You Get Lonely Tonight,” Cole Swindell changes wooing tactics. He decides to throw a sad party and win his girl back with a song of good old fashioned pathos and guilt. He also starts listening obsessively to Sonny Sharrock’s Guitar album and sends his pianist down to the cellar to record (“for atmosphere, y’all”). Song completed, he hits “send.” Unfortunately the song turns out to be about death.

Alfred Soto: The gold standard, of course, is Alan Jackson’s “Drive,” in which the singer-songwriter commemorated his dad with the kind of simple images that the obtuse would call obvious. Cole Swindell’s voice without trying oozes syrup, though, and the rawk guitar solo siphons the emotion in a way the song doesn’t need. But it could’ve been worse.

Anthony Easton: This is so fucking pretty, with that overly elegant piano over a voice that hits me like the most lachrymose Luke Bryan ballad. I am on board despite knowing it is most likely terrible.

Katherine St Asaph: I don’t begrudge anybody the sentiment, but for me this must be the sleepy song people hear in “Hello.”

Micha Cavaseno: The occasionally disjointed lyrical lines have me bewildered as all hell, and for all the heart-warming fondness that Cole is draping, its dramatic climax on the final chorus oddly triumphant despite the themes of death and loss, I’m left cold. But the best moment is the morbid notions of Swindell’s own mortality when he remarks about seeing his father’s face making everything perfect. It’s a heartbreak that sonically he can’t convey with either his thin voice or this plain production, but in that little moment, to make the end of life hold meaning in such prospects of reunion, Swindell manages to place himself as a young man for whom the big gesture and the odd detail are well at home beside each other.

Will Adams: My five-year high school reunion is this June, and thinking about it spins me on an emotional wheel. It’ll be amusing; I’ll catch up with all the bros who lived in my dorm and see how they turned out. It’ll be strange, too, when we meet, and we have to acknowledge that one of us isn’t there. I never know how to grieve online, so I just don’t do it. Hearing about the death is both instantaneous and steady: one vague status update, hours of denial (it’s just a rumor it’s just a rumor please say it’s just a rumor), then slow confirmation as profile pictures change and more condolences trickle into the timeline. “You Should Be Here” sounds too chipper to be what it’s about, what with the sunkissed guitars and warm backing vocals. But that’s the point; Swindell wants his father back to enjoy the party and the cold beer, not simply for the sake of being alive. I don’t know if Mark ever drank. Even if he didn’t, I’d want him to be at the reunion, for both the pomp of official welcoming events and for the frenzy of afterparties, when my friends and I will stand idly in a crowded hotel room, popping open cheap bottles and looking at everyone around us.

Brad Shoup: He would have turned 28 on Friday. I know this because Facebook told me. And when I clicked on his name, I saw tributes from the people who already knew this: updates on what Rob Lowe’s doing lately, a photo of a forgotten photobooth strip found in a book, pics of all his sisters preparing for a wedding. I didn’t know him that well. He was the little brother of someone I had a crush on; I’d drive to her bookstore and make terrible conversation: I was a creep, and I figured that out eventually. I “mentored” him in the summer between my first couple years in college, which meant we’d grab burgers and just hang out. I don’t think I was expected to talk about discipleship, and I wasn’t qualified to tell him about it. We just had fun. A couple of years later, I was back in Austin, playing chess with a friend in a coffeeshop. He ambled over, we talked, he unzipped his backpack to show me the white wine he’d smuggled in. All those years, I didn’t learn anything about his battles, about the close calls and the hard work put in by his friends and family. Even so, when he left it leveled me. The sentiment of “You Should Be Here” — I thought it was about a lover, but Swindell hints at no such thing — is gutting, because Swindell’s not shivering in a bar, he’s out with friends, enjoying everything as best as he can. Not because he’s young, or he has an obligation to his loved ones, or because he’s a Warner recording artist, but because he’s compelled to live. It’s not everyone’s burden.

Reader average: [5.8] (5 votes)

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5 Responses to “Cole Swindell – You Should Be Here”

  1. oh wow, brad.

  2. Does this sound a lot like Taylor Swift’s “The Moment I Knew” to anyone else?

  3. (Also Will and Brad: those are stunning blurbs.)

  4. Brad got the closer I was looking for, and wow that was touching. Good all around honestly, and I’m still struck at how strong the feeling of this record is (even if I think the song isn’t).

  5. yeah, song’s just ok. i’m still trying to process the video, with him breaking down at his dad’s grave set against prominent Chevy product placement.